Playtime has big makeover at a Malmesbury school
3:00pm Sunday 15th September 2013 in Latest News
A PRIMARY school in Malmesbury has invested thousands of pounds into a top-of-the-range outdoor play area complete with its own theatrical stage.
Youngsters at St Joseph’s School, Holloway Hill, returned last week to find the formerly dilapidated garden and play house had been transformed into a £30,000 all-weather play area.
It features everything from slides and monkey bars to chalkboards and obstacle courses on synthetic grass, to prevent uniforms from getting muddy.
Pupil Henry Exworthy, seven, said: “I like playing on the slide and going in the secret den.
“Before, when I was a Year 1, I thought it was okay but it could do with some improving, but now I think ‘wow’.”
Headteacher Elizabeth Christopher said she is thrilled by the transformation that took place over the summer.
The work, carried out by Different By Design, based in Bradford on Avon, marks the end of two years of refurbishments to extend the classroom, enlarge the gardens down by the river and open the new play facilities.
Mrs Christopher said: “I have been headteacher for four years and when I first came here this was the one area of the school I really wanted to change. It was in desperate need of refurbishment.”
Money for the project came from the Parent and Friends Association, as well as an increase in the school budget due to a higher intake of pupils.
Outdoor learning is something that Ofsted encourages, and St Joseph’s hopes to improve on its previous ‘good’ rating to become ‘outstanding’.
Mrs Christopher, from Dauntsey, said: “The play area is a really nice vibrant space for the children to come out and enjoy for independent play.
“Before the mud there were paving slabs here and a run-down play house, until we got our new facilities. The children have had to be really patient as it has taken a couple of years to get it all finished, but it looks great now.
“It’s made a huge difference.”
The school is using its open day on Wednesday, September 25, from 10am-noon and 1pm-3pm as a platform to show off its new facilities.
The school, whose pastor Father George O’Sullivan recently died after a battle with cancer, will be holding a memorial mass celebration in his memory on Friday at 2pm at St Aldhelm’s Church.
Current and former pupils, as well as parents and members of the public, are welcome to attend.
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